PARMESHWARI AGITATION –1967

The HIGH & LOW OF KP AGITATION 1967

Parmeshwari Agitation of 1967 is 52 years old. During these 52 years much water has flown down the Jehlum, Changes in all spheres have taken place beyond imaginations. The men and women who took part or have an appreciable impression of the month long agitation and are alive are over 70 years old ——- leading a well earned retired life , looking after their grand children or nursing their old age health problems. 50 years is a very long period to remember vividly all that happened during the agitation. So it is natural they may have nearly forgotten or at best might be having some faded impressions.This write up is to revive the memories of that agitation among the elders and for the youngsters of the community to draw their own conclusions.

This writer was a college student during the agitation. I was born in a family where Politics and Journalism had already taken birth since 1939. A large family consisting of more than 30 members would sit together after the Dinner to discuss every thing under the Sun.This was the order of the day. Most of the time our immediate neighbours would also join the discussions .Such discussions had helped us to be rational thinkers.This writer shared what ever observed or seen during the day and get corrected after interaction with the family members. The month of JULY brings me back the month long memory of the agitation , hence this write up.

Many intellectuals & authors have written about this agitation . Almost all of them have blamed the majority community for having engineered and helped the handing over of Parmeshwari to her Muslim paramour . But we have turned blind eye how our own people helped her to be handed over to her paramour. The main purpose of this write up is to put the record STRAIGHT. Sitting in the glass houses and throwing stones at others is not the solution. While we have the liberty of putting the blame at the door of others , we should first clean our own house. Let the future generations and research scholars have both the views in front of them and make their own conclusions. I would request the readers to go through the write up and express their opinions freely with out any reservations. This writer will welcome both the brickbats and bouquets.

I have deliberately avoided the names in the write up. Most of them are dead and by naming them this writer does not want that their descendants should be visited by the sins of their elders . I have kept the month long happenings to the briefest lest reader looses the plot while going through it.

PARMESHWARI AGITATION —-1967

The Spring of 1967 had given way to the Summer. The days become large , sky clear and the temperature rising with humidity. The people of the valley were enjoying the last month of Summer —- August , and every thing looked hunky dory.Little did the people know that a volcano was brewing in the centre of Lal Chowk. The epicentre of the volcano was the ground floor of LALLA RUKH HOTEL, which was the retail centre of groceries of the Govt. Co -operative department ( a very poor cousin of present day Mall) along side the old city bus stand very near to the Tyndale Biscoe School. The store had many sales people ( both girls & men ) .
Among the Sales Staff, one of the sales girl was PARMESHWARI ( the daughter of a widow residing in Bagh Jogi Lanker , Rainawari ) , and the other other was GHULAM RASOOL KANT( resident of Wazapora , Ali kadal ).Working in the same place and under one roof they started liking each other. Incidentally , the Manager of the Co operative outlet was a burly mustached Kashmiri Pandit , resident of Bagh Jogi Lanker ,Rainawari(the writer does not want to name him ) living just 500 meters from the residence of Parmeshwari . The romance between the two was happening before his eyes but ,kept silent for reasons best known to him. It is a mere presumption now that had he spoken to her widow mother the situation could have been saved. The romance having reached a point of no return , the two decided to go for marriage. Parmeshwari eloped and started living with Gh. Rasool Kanth.

The widow mother lodged a missing report about her daughter. The widow also approached some KP Leaders who became active and got in touch with the police. Their contention was that the girl is minor and has been abducted, the girl should be restored to her mother. But the Birth record and the Municipality record showed that she is “MAJOR”. The news was leaked to the muslim controlled vernacular press who lapped it up and prominently published it. At the same time the news spread like wild fire among the KP community. The murmurs started getting louder and louder. Sensing the grave situation the State authorities instructed the DIG Police, Kashmir to get hold of the girl and hand her over to the mother. The DIG Police Kashmir range happened to be a tall handsome Kashmiri Pandit IPS officer who thought that he was the only honest and efficient police officer who knew the rules and regulations at the tip of his tongue ( the writer does not want to name the officer). Going through the birth records , he declared that the girl is major and can decide about her future. In fact a meeting between Mother and daughter ——- who by now had changed her name to PARVEEN AKHTAR, in presence of KP activists in the police station was arranged. She tersely told her mother that she knew about the whole affair because Gh. Rasool would come to our home quite often. The mild tremors started assuming the shape of earth quake high on the Richter scale. Two types of “PROTESTS” started . One was the day protest held on the streets and the other was the evening protest where fiery speeches were delivered on the lawns of the SHEETAL NATH —— Head quarters of the All India Kashmiri Pandit sabha. This writer would deal separately lest it causes confusion.

DAY PROTESTS

The news spread like wild fire not only in J&k but in all the principal cities of India where ever there was a sizable population of the community. Since Electronic media had not come up of the age ,the print media both local and National lapped it and splashed the news on their front pages.In the meantime “ACTION COMMITTEE ” was constituted by the community. The members of the Action committee were the much known faces of the community. The Action Committee had its HQ in Sheetal Nath premises where from programmes and press releases were being issued. The community had become quite restive and was hell bent upon for a show down with the state government.The community took to the streets in unprecedented large numbers spearheaded by the women and girls.The Kashmir watchers who had witnessed protests on the streets at different times were shocked to see the huge numbers of the community women and girls taking to the streets. Known for being mostly the home makers and keeping inside their homes , It shocked everybody including the majority community. Wearing their traditional dress the SAREES , tightened around their waistline, they raised the slogans against the government by raising their arms in fists, they faced and stood rock like in facing the tear gas shells and lathis of the state police. They never ran for shelter and showering of shells and lathis added to their zeal by making their protests more and more vociferous. With lowered jaws and shocked expectations the majority community would throng the places in huge numbers where the protest was going to be held. By and large they conceded that they never had expected such strong and unprecedented resentment.
This writer was witness to one protest held at BAJAJ TOWERS in front of Broca Press .The tall handsome KP DIG came in a jeep thinking that he will himself manage the protesters. Hardly had he stepped down from his jeep than he was attacked by the women protesters who encircled him like attacking bees , pulling at his starch pressed uniform and tearing it. His security staff could not reach him while he was being pushed and pulled. It was the timely intervention of Late Sh. T N Dhar, the then President of Valley JAN SANGH who threw himself around the DIG and pushed him inside his jeep. But for his intervention the handsome tall DIG would have been stripped naked.

Watching another such protest in the Regal Chowk , Late Shamim Ahmed Shamim , the sarcastic and sadistic pleasure loving , M.P. & Journalist wrote in his newspaper “AINA” .” He has watched many protests held at different times , by male protesters , who would run for the nearest shelter after being lathi charged and being showered by the tear gas shells. My shocking surprise came when I watched the protest of Kashmiri Pandit women. They faced the tear gas shells standing rock like and occasionally throwing these back to the police. salute to their bravery and firm conviction”.

Jammu division was also affected by the protests . Jammu city which had a sizable population of Kashmiris also took to the streets in order to show their solidarity with the brethren and sisters of Kashmir. The local people though did not take active part but gave moral support . Says Sh. Bushan Parimoo, Journalist & environmentalist , who was one of those who spearheaded the protest, the young men and women had formed a group who would perform underground activities in which girls became the “INFORMATION CARRIERS” hood winking the police.

Same type of protests were being carried out in the principal cities of the country where the community had a sizable presence. Funds were being collected in addition to medicines and other things. They were contacting the local media and giving them the exact details .
Back in the valley the protests were getting more and more intensified — the whole credit should go to the women and girls. This writer was witness to the huge number of women and girls coming all the way from Rainawari footing the distance to reach the specific places of protests.

By now the state government realised that they had under estimated the situation and they had been caught with their pants down. The unnerved administration did not know how to control the situation . In order to break the agitation they resorted to the mass arrests of the community. Night knocking of the doors by the police became the order of the day. The central Jail got filled with hundreds of arrested people.The busy body Principal of the Women’s College — a close friend of Mr. Sadiq tried to help the Government by closing the gates of the college so that the girls don’t come out for the protest. To compound the difficulties of the government differences between Sadiq and Mir Qasim ( President State Congress) surfaced. Central Government was also a mute spectator. They were caught in a situation of between the deep sea and the devil. They did not want to antagonise the majority population while having sympathy with the minority. The vote bank policy plays a vital role in a democratic set up. According to well informed sources Sadiq had offered to resign but was persuaded not to.

EVENING PROTEST

After the day long protest the people would Que to Shital Nath, the head quarters of the “ACTION COMMITTEE” where from the “FARMANS” were issued for the next day. The people would come in large numbers and make themselves where ever they could find space in the uneven lawn. An improvised platform had been made where the honorable members of the action committee would sit. The people would jostle for the front rows where from they could see the faces of the speakers.Fiery and tsunami like speeches were delivered . The speakers while delivering the speeches violently shook their bodies —— infact one of the senior action committee member used to wear turban —— he had to make efforts to keep it on the head lest it falls down. The crowd would lustily cheer and greet them with the slogan “PANJA NARA PANDVAN DA CHATTA NARA JAI HIND”.Most of the senior members of the action committee had JAN SANGH/ RSS leanings.As the days wore on the stage was slowly “CAPTURED” by young men who were mostly unemployed or had some personal grudge for the authorities for not considering them for the professional institutions. Slowly the agenda of “RETURN OF PARMESHWARI” went down the priority list or was “PUT ON THE BACK BURNER”. They would attack the government for not providing them jobs.The speakers who would start with Kashmiri shifted to Hindi/urdu and finally to English. They would use such words which were not found in Oxford dictionary. Says , Bushan Parimoo who was a prominent member of the Jammu agitation, was invited by the Action committee to speak from the dias.But the “Young Brigade” did not give them time even after waiting for 3 days. This made Dr. Karan Singh , who was a central cabinet minister , to tell the Jammu people that ” THE KPS DO NOT WANT “KUDI” ( GIRL) they want NAUKRI The senior leaders were watching this with mute silence and helplessly. The speeches became more personal , with individuals having their own agendas.

At this stage the writer wants to bring to the notice of the readers a view from an “old Kashmiri hand”. The person was none other than Pt. PREM NATH BAZAZ—— an experienced Kashmiri Pandit , having been a top community leader , journalist, political analyst and a reputed author. He was in Srinagar during the agitation period. He would quietly sit in the office of his old disciple, the veteran Journalist Sh. N L WATTAL, who by now had become the Chief Editor of the prestigious newspaper ” The Daily KHIDMAT” , dipping himself in newspapers /books/magazines. Said Sh Wattal —— quote” As the agitation was gathering momentum day after day, I also got emotionally involved. Bazaz Sahab never commented on it. When the agitation was at peak , he broke his silence. ” Nand Lal I can see that you too have been overtaken by the agitation. I nodded “Yes”. To which Bazaz replied :- Quote
” THERE NEVER HAS BEEN A MASSIVE AGITATION FROM OUR COMMUNITY LIKE THIS , NOR THERE WILL BE IN FUTURE. BUT ALL THIS MASSIVE ENERGY WILL END IN A SMOKE. THE LEADERS LACK VISION , THEY ARE INCAPABLE, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN AGENDAS, VESTED INTERESTS. THE “DISCIPLE” PROTESTED BUT THE “GURU” STUCK TO HIS WORDS. Little did the disciple know that the “GURU” was an old hand and had known these leaders much earlier. What happened to the agitation is now history. The “GURU” proved to be MICHEL de NOSTREDAME of Kashmir.

While the agitation was at peak , Jan Sangh wanted to cash in on it. They dispatched their senior leader Balraj Madhok to add fuel to the fire.While delivering his characteristic fiery speech he told the Muslims to go to Pakistan.This was the opportunity for which the State Government was waiting. The State government instigated the majority community with the local urdu media controlled mostly by Muslims to express their strong protest against the speech of Balraj Madhok. After setting the valley on fire Madhok left for Delhi next day leaving the KP community at the mercy of the God. The situation changed totally over night. The next morning dawned with the majority community observing total Bandh, huge processions, killings, physical assaults on the minority community, looting of their shops and burning of their houses.Says, Sh. P N PANDITA, ( Retd , Chief Conservator of Forests) , their family lived in a house in Karan Nagar. When the family members returned after the day work , they found the house in flames and the goons cheering. All they could salvage was the clothes they were wearing and the “LIFE”. The police had been instructed to look “other Way” while all this was taking place. The State Government was bent upon “TEACHING A LESSON’ to the minority community.They planted some of our community men as “SPIES” in the central Jail who would report to the state authorities. This continued for several days. The entire city was put under curfew.As if this was not enough , the state Government released the criminals from their barracks and asked them to attack the KP arrested people and beat them black and blue. All this was being carried out to please the majority community.The death toll of KP Community during this period of arson and looting rose to nearly 12.

MEDIA — A DIVIDED HOUSE.

The print media became a divided house. The local urdu press controlled mostly by the majority community publishing news palatable to the majority community. The National Press whose correspondents were mostly from the minority community maintained a balance by blaming the state government for their ineffective role in controlling the goons who went on rampage. Says Sh. J N Dhar, the then Special Correspondent AIR ( Now the Chief Editor of “KOSHUR SAMACHAR”) the state government complained against his reporting to his superiors but his superiors stood by him saying “there is no doubt about the balanced and unbiased reporting of Sh. JN Dhar”.

BURIAL OF THE DAY & EVENING PROTESTS

With the imposition of the curfew the day long protests came to a grinding halt. In the same way the “the fire spitting young hot heads disappeared from the Sheetal Nath dais taking refuge in their homes. While all this was happening some of the senior leaders of the action committee were busy establishing links with the state authorities. During the day they would spit fire and during the night they would sit with the state authorities to discuss their own “personal agendas”.This “CHANNEL TWO ” ( a word coined after 1990) diplomacy between the Scoundrels and scalawags ( the so called Netas) , the community brokers , was confirmed by the then Home Secretary ( Speaker turned IAS bureaucrat ) , during his post retirement days which he would spend at the office of the Daily “KHIDMAT” ( he would write centre page articles for the paper occasionally).

AWAKENING OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

The agitation had become a National News. The so called Secular parties like Congress, Leftists, in order to settle scores with Jan Sangh party jumped into the fray by advising the minority community of Kashmiri Pandits to maintain the age old fabric of brotherhood and secular values , carefully avoiding any comment on the majority community , solely because of vote bank policy. When enough water had flown down the Jehlum , Delhi woke up. They despatched the then Home Minister of GOI , Sh. Y B Chavan, to the valley. The State Government was represented by their Home Minister.

CREMATION OF AGITATION
Mr Chavan held parleys with different groups. While appealing for the end of agitation , he asked the “Action Committee” to submit memorandum. Dissensions had already started in the “Action Committee”. Fierce differences appeared on what should be included in the memorandum. The Netas who had established links with the state authorities were eager to present the memorandum to end the agitation because of their own personal agendas. A sort of agreement was reached between the Netas and the young hot heads . Ultimately the young hot heads had their way . They prepared the list of demands keeping their own demands such as employment, more seats in the professional colleges etc and the last demand was for the return of Parmeshwari. The Netas though not satisfied with the draft were in a hurry to call off the agitation for their own interests. The agitation was formally called off. Mud slinging started between the leaders blaming each other for the termination of the agitation for their own interests. The scoundrels and scalawags of the community in a shameless way trying to wriggle out of the mess they had created placed the blame at the door of the State Home Minister. Though this writer has never been a fan of that Minister belonging to our community , he never used the platform of the community to rise to such position.

CREMATION OF THE AGITATION

The month long agitation was put on the pyre and lit by the shameless, graceless, disgusting “leaders” of the community.
The supreme sacrifice of our women and girls who left their homes and hearths without caring for their siblings, walking long distances from their homes in the hot weather of Summer to reach the places of protests ended in a smoke.They bore the maximum brunt of the police LATHIS, Tear Gas shells,water canons.This writer has no hesitation in saluting their guts, determination and bravery. I would call them “JHANSI RANIS OF SRINAGAR”. The people who got killed, the people whose houses were set on fire, who were physically assaulted, those who were attacked by the hardened criminals inside the premises of the central jail. All this went up in a smoke within minutes.

GAJENDARGADKAR COMMISSION

The Government of India constituted a Single man commission headed by the Retired Chief Justice of India , Sh. Gajendargadkar to look into the grievances of the community based on the memorandum submitted by the “Action Committee”. How much seriously the community took this commission that only 3 affidavits were submitted before the commission. Commendable is the performance of one Smt. VEENA Dhar , who argued the case before the commission extempore without any papers. Said Late Sh. R K DULLOO, Retd District and Sessions Judge , that the community did not present their case properly.The so called “NETAS” were busy distributing loaves and fishes among themselves, they had no time for this waste ful exercise.

THE LAST LAUGH FOR THE MONTH LONG AGITATION WAS THE GAJENDARGADKAR COMMISSION.

Before I conclude , writer would ask some questions and request the readers to reply these :-

Q No 1 DID ANY MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY ASK THE TALL HANDSOME THE THEN KP DIG POLICE OFFICER WHY HE DID NOT HAND OVER PARMESHWARI TO HER MOTHER , DESPITE BEING TOLD BY THE AUTHORITIES. THIS GENTLEMAN LIVED IN DELHI , ATTENDED ALL THE MEETINGS/SEMINARS BY THE KP ORGANISATIONS. IN THE POST MIGRANT PERIOD?

Q. No :- 2. DID ANY MEMBER ASK THE BURLY MOUSTACHED KP MANAGER OF THE Govt. Co Opertive Store , WHY HE DID NOT INFORM THE MOTHER OF PARMESHWARI, WHO WAS LIVING JUST 500 Meters from his house?

Q. No :- 3. WHAT HAPPENED TO LAKHS OF RUPEES AND MEDICINES THAT WERE COLLECTED FROM VARIOUS PARTS BY KP ORGANISATIONS AND IN SOME CASES AIRLIFTED TO SRINAGAR. HAS ANY BODY ASKED THIS QUESTION ? NO, NONE. NOT A SINGLE PENNY WAS PAID TO THE DESCENDANTS WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES?

By-Mr. V.K. Wattal

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